Reviews

Best ATV Winches: Our Top Picks for Making Off-Roading Easier

Find the right winch for your off-roading needs with our handy guide

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BY Robert Bacon / LAST UPDATED ON October 15, 2021

Anyone who’s into off-roading knows there’s an indescribable joy that comes when you’ve freed your ATV out of your garage for a rip. It’s a barrage of fresh air, countryside smells, and adrenaline from start to finish. Unfortunately, this fun comes to a swift halt when your ATV gets stuck. If you can’t get unstuck quickly, a great day out turns into a laborious afternoon. Thankfully, an ATV winch will have you back riding the trail in no time and requires minimal effort. Below you’ll find a buying guide that helps you understand what’s important when picking a winch for your vehicle. We’ve also compiled a list of the best ATV winches on the market and ranked them under a variety of categories.

Best Overall
SuperWinch 12V DC Winch
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Summary
Summary

This model doesn’t stand out in any one aspect but performs very well in all areas. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s built to last.

Pros
Pros
  • Low-amp permanent magnet motor
  • 50-foot cable
  • Fast line speed
  • Mechanical and dynamic brakes
  • Wired handheld remote with a 12-foot lead
Cons
Cons
  • Steel rope
  • Could be slightly underpowered for some people
Best Overall
SuperWinch 12V DC Winch
Best Value
Rugcel Electric 12V 2,000lb Single Line Waterproof Winch
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Summary
Summary

For a low price, you’ll get big-winch features. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with big-winch power.

Pros
Pros
  • Exceptionally low price point
  • IP68 rated
  • 50-foot cable
  • Wired remote control with an 8-foot lead
Cons
Cons
  • Low pulling capacity of just 2,000-pounds
  • Steel rope
  • Series wound motor
Best Value
Rugcel Electric 12V 2,000lb Single Line Waterproof Winch
Honorable Mention
SuperATV 4500 Lb Winch
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Summary
Summary

There’s no area that this winch doesn’t go above and beyond. But that also includes its price point.

Pros
Pros
  • Enormous 4,500-pound pulling capacity
  • Synthetic rope
  • 50-foot-long rope
  • Wireless remote
  • Permanent magnet motor
Cons
Cons
  • High price point
  • Mount (sold separately) might not fit every model
Honorable Mention
SuperATV 4500 Lb Winch
Closeup Of ATV Winch On White Backgroung
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best ATV Winches Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
SuperWinch 12V DC Winch

The SuperWinch 12V DC Winch hits all the right marks without going overboard in any one area. Its 1.2-horsepower motor gives it 3,000 pounds of pulling power, which will be enough power for most people, but anyone who has a very heavy ATV or gets themselves into particularly sticky situations might want more. This model uses a low-amp permanent magnet motor, so it won’t put too much of a strain on your battery. Pulling your ATV to freedom is a 50-foot steel rope, meaning you’ll have plenty of room to work with. 


Using steel has kept the overall cost down, but it would be nice to see a synthetic rope instead. Extending this rope's life is a heavy-duty four-way roller fairlead, which should reduce wear on the cable. Since this model uses a steel rope, its wired handheld remote with a 12-foot lead is a welcome safety addition. There’s a mechanical and dynamic braking system, so your ATV will stay firmly in place if you need to pause winching. This model has one of the fastest line speeds on the market, pulling at 27 feet per minute when unloaded and 4 feet per minute with a full load. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have a mounting kit, you’ll need to pick one up separately.

Specs:

  • Brand: Superwinch
  • Model: LT3000 Winch
  • Weight: 19.8 pounds

Pros:

  • Low-amp permanent magnet motor
  • 50-foot cable
  • Mechanical and dynamic brakes
  • Wired handheld remote with 12-foot lead
  • Fast line speed

Cons:

  • Steel rope instead of synthetic
  • Some people might like more power
Best Value
Rugcel Electric 12V 2,000lb Single Line Waterproof Winch

Anyone who’s on a tight budget should check out the Rugcel Electric 12V 2,000 Lb winch. As its name suggests, this model’s pulling capacity is rated at 2,000 pounds, and in terms of power, this is about as low as you’d want to go. The entire unit is IP68-rated and waterproof, which is a welcome surprise considering this winch’s low price point. It pulls smoothly and steadily, thanks to a 1-horsepower 12V series wound motor and three-stage planetary gear system with a free spooling clutch. 


Its 50-foot steel guidance cable gives you plenty of room to work with and keeping the cable protected while in use is a stainless-steel fairlead. There’s a wired remote control included in the sale, which has an 8-foot lead and although this is a great feature on a winch with a steel cable, we’d prefer to see a longer lead. There are two braking systems on this model: mechanical and dynamic. Again, it’s a rare but welcome surprise to see these features on a winch with such a low price point. 

Specs:
  • Brand: Rugcel Winch
  • Model: 2,000 Lb Winch
  • Weight: 18.76 pounds

Pros:

  • Low price point
  • Waterproof thanks to IP68 rating
  • 50-foot cable
  • Wired remote control with 8-foot lead
  • Mechanical and dynamic brakes 

Cons:

  • Low pulling capacity of only 2,000 pounds
  • Steel rope
  • Series wound motor will draw more amps than a permanent magnet
Best Premium
SuperATV 4500 Lb Winch

The SuperATV 4500 Lb Winch tops the charts in practically all measurable areas. It has a 4,500-pound pulling capacity, which is the highest on this list and about as much as you’d ever want on an ATV. Ensuring this model operates smoothly is a permanent magnet DC 12V 1.4-horsepower motor and there’s 50-feet of synthetic rope, which is great if you often find yourself far from an anchor point. An automatic braking system locks the drum when the motor is stopped or the load is attached. 


This model fits most bumpers or winch mounts with a 3 x 6.6-inch bolting pattern. However, it requires a machine-specific mounting plate or winch-ready bumper. So you’ll need to see if a mounting plate is available for your ATV on the SuperATV website before purchasing. This winch is sold at a much higher price point than most other models on the list. Thankfully, it has weather-proof seals and is waterproof, so it’s built to last. Included in the sale is a wireless remote with a water-resistant receiver, wired dash rocker switch, aluminum hawse fairlead, fairlead support bracket, winch hook kit, hook pull strap, rope stopper, heavy-gauge extended wiring, and a waterproof solenoid.

Specs:
  • Brand: SuperATV
  • Model: WN-4500
  • Weight: 31 pounds

Pros:

  • 4,500-pound pulling capacity
  • Synthetic rope
  • 50-foot cable
  • Wireless remote
  • Permanent magnet motor

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Mount (sold separately) might not fit every model
Best 3,500-Pound Winch
Zeak 3500N

The Zeak 3500N has plenty of pulling power and should work well even with relatively weak batteries. At the heart of this model is a 1.1-horsepower 12V DC motor, which features a three-stage planetary gear train, and since it uses a permanent magnet system, it won’t draw a lot of amps relative to its 3,500-pound pulling capacity. By and large, this is the ideal pulling capacity for the majority of riders.


This winch uses a 1/4-inch 50-foot-long synthetic rope, which is perfect for anyone who’s worried about a steel cable snapping. A built-in dynamic brake will stop your ATV from sliding while you load it. Included in the sale is a 5.1 x 7.2 x 2.3-inch standard mounting bracket, hawse fairlead, an 8.2-inch handlebar rocker, wireless remote, weather-sealed solenoid, and a clevis hook. You can use this winch in all weather conditions with confidence, thanks to its IP67 rating. 

Specs:
  • Brand: Zeak
  • Model: 3500N
  • Weight: 19.81 pounds

Pros:

  • 3,500-pound pulling capacity
  • Permanent magnet motor
  • 50-feet of synthetic rope
  • Wireless remote

Cons:

  • Mount not included
  • Might not fit your current mount
Best 3,000-Pound
Off Road Boar 3000-Lb. Electric Winch Kit

The Off Road Boar 3000-pound winch is a good blend of power and value. Its 1.2-horsepower motor uses a differential planetary permanent magnet. The motor has no reliability issues, which is important to highlight given this model’s low price point. Its 3,000-pound load capacity should be enough for most people. One issue you might have is that its line speed isn’t quick when compared to other models on this list. It only pulls at 10.8 feet per minute when empty and 2.3 feet per minute when fully loaded.


The whole unit measures 11.8 x 4.3 x 4.1 inches. Although it’s suitable for most ATVs, you’ll need to make sure the mounting plate will fit yours before purchasing. It comes with a 30-foot 5.5mm-thick steel cable, which could be too short for some people who often find themselves riding far from anchor points. Overall, this is a great package for the money but might be too limited for some riders.

Specs:
  • Brand: Off Road Boar
  • Model: TX0003
  • Weight: 18.01 pounds

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Permanent magnet motor
  • 3,000-pound pulling capacity

Cons:

  • Relatively short 30-foot steel cable
  • Slow line speed
Best 4,000-Pound
Champion 4000-Lb. ATV/UTV Winch Kit

The Champion 4000-Lb winch should have you and your ATV covered in just about any situation. This model’s 1.4-horsepower DC permanent magnet motor has a 4,000-pound rated line pull, which is one of the highest you’ll find on an ATV winch. Bringing your ATV to safety is a 49-foot galvanized-steel, super-duty aircraft cable. The cable is guided onto the 1.7 x 3.2-inch drum via a roller fairlead, reducing wear and tear as you winch. A dynamic brake works with the drum to ensure your ATV won’t roll away if you stop winching.


Everything you need to get set up is included in the sale including a mounting channel, roller fairlead, wiring kit and connector, and mini-rocker handlebar switch. The winch has a perfectly acceptable line speed of 3.3 feet per minute with a full load and 12.8 feet per minute with no load. The unit is water-repellent, but it’s not waterproof. The biggest downside to this winch is that no remote control is included in the sale and, as we’ve mentioned, a remote is especially important when working with a steel cable.

Specs:
  • Brand: Champion Power Equipment
  • Model: 14001
  • Weight: 25.08 pounds

Pros:

  • 4,000-pound pulling capacity
  • Mounting channel included in sale
  • Permanent magnet motor

Cons:

  • Quite heavy, so will place extra strain on the front suspension
  • Steel instead of synthetic cable
  • Not totally waterproof
  • No remote

How We Selected ATV Winches

We considered dozens of ATV winches before choosing our top contenders. Some brands are already well established in this niche, and priority was given to their products. Other lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were pulling capacity, motor type, cable material, pulling speed, mechanical soundness, price, safety features, mount fit, and reliability. We avoided products that have mechanical or electrical issues.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

There are tons of ATV winches on the market at vastly different price points. So, how do you choose the right one for you without overpaying for things you don’t need? Below you’ll find the key features to consider before buying an ATV winch and how they might apply to you.

What to Consider When Buying An ATV Winch

Types of ATV Winch Ropes

Synthetic Rope

For all intents and purposes, you’ll be better off if you choose a winch with a synthetic rope. Above all else, synthetic ropes are safer than steel ropes when they snap as you’re less likely to get steel shards in your eye or the rope whipping back at you at high velocity. You’ll be able to support just as much weight with a synthetic rope, but it’ll weigh 20-30 pounds less. This reduces the stress placed on your ATV’s front suspension and makes it easier on you when handling the rope.

Synthetic rope is about as durable as its steel counterpart but, unlike steel, it doesn’t develop kinks. It will fray over time, but it won’t cause you any discomfort when handling it. The main downside to synthetic rope is that it costs more than steel. If the rope is damp and the temperature drops below freezing, there’s a possibility that the fabric will freeze solid. 

Steel Rope

The only real advantage steel rope has over synthetic rope is that it’s cheaper, albeit marginally. Some people feel that a steel rope requires less maintenance than its synthetic counterpart. However, you’ll still need to keep a steel rope clean, as it’ll rust with time if you don’t. 

You may not need to wash a steel rope as often as a synthetic rope, but you’ll need to inspect it for damage each time before you ride. If there are too many frayed strands, it could be too dangerous to use the winch.

ATV Winches Key Features

Pulling Capacity

The most important feature to consider before buying any winch is its pulling capacity. Winches for ATVs generally range in pulling capacity from 2,000-4,500-pounds. You’ll need a winch that easily pulls the weight of your ATV plus the added resistance of the sand or mud etc., that it’s stuck in. 

Generally speaking, the higher the pulling capacity, the higher the price tag. But there’s no need to go overboard unnecessarily. The other thing to be aware of is that higher capacity winches put more strain on your ATV’s battery and some powerful winches might work in bursts rather than consistently and smoothly if your battery isn’t powerful enough.

Mount 

If you don’t have a winch mount for your ATV, then you’ll need to make sure that the model you’re buying comes with one. If it doesn’t come with one, you’ll have to buy one separately and make sure that it’ll fit on your ATV.

If you already have a mount on your ATV, you’ll still need to make sure that the winch you choose will fit. If you’re unsure, you should contact the manufacturer directly.

Safety Features

Most winches come with some safety features. One thing you should look out for is a remote control, so you won’t need to be too close to the ATV or cable when it’s in use. This is especially beneficial if you have a winch with a steel rope.

Many of the top models will have a dynamic braking system, which uses the winch’s gears for resistance to help automatically hold the load. Some models will also have a mechanical brake. Braking systems are particularly useful if you’re pulling an ATV up an incline or need to stop winching momentarily. 

Motor Type

You’ll be faced with two types of motors when picking an ATV winch: a series wound motor and a permanent magnet motor. Permanent magnet motors can pull the same weight as comparable series-wound motors but draw fewer amps, so they won’t drain your battery as much. They’re a better option for anyone worried that a powerful winch could leave their battery flat. Permanent magnet motors are more suited to performing light to medium tasks because they generate more heat and can overheat when used for long periods. As these motors heat up, their power decreases, and their amperage draw increases.

Series wound motors are more suited to tasks that could take a while. They also generate less heat when compared to permanent magnet motors, making them the preferred motor for heavy-duty winching. So if you need a heavy-duty winch and will use it for long periods, a series wound motor is the one to go for.

ATV Winches Tips and Tricks

  • Always check your winch’s line for damage before riding your ATV. This goes for both synthetic and steel cables.
  • Check the amperage of your ATV’s battery and make sure it’s suitable for the winch you have in mind. 
  • If your battery isn’t powerful enough for the series wound winch you had in mind, check out the same capacity winch with a permanent magnet motor.

FAQs

Q: What size winch do I need for an ATV?

A good guideline is to get a winch that has a pulling capacity that’s around 1.5-times the weight of your ATV. For the majority of people, a 2,500-3,500-pound winch will be enough.

Q: Why use a winch on an ATV?

If you get stuck, you can wrap your winch around an anchor point to pull the ATV unstuck. This is the main reason you’d use an ATV winch, but you can also use it to help load your ATV onto a truck or trailer.

Q: Can I use an ATV winch as a hoist?

Generally speaking, it’s not safe to use an ATV winch as a hoist. The main reason is that the braking systems on winches and hoists are different, which could lead to you dropping your load.

Final Thoughts

We’ve chosen the SuperWinch 12V DC Winch as our best overall model. This winch has enough power for the majority of people and is built to last. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t need too much pulling power, then check out our best value pick, the Rugcel Electric 12V 2,000lb Single Line Waterproof Winch